Michael Cohen, former lawyer and fixer for former President Donald Trump, recently faced a peculiar legal blunder. According to The New York Times, court papers revealed that Cohen inadvertently used fake legal citations generated by Google’s AI chatbot, Bard, in a motion submitted to a federal judge. This incident has raised questions about the reliability of AI in legal matters and could potentially impact Cohen’s credibility in an upcoming criminal case against Trump.
Cohen’s lawyer, David Schwartz, used these fictitious citations in a motion to end Cohen’s court supervision early. Cohen, who pleaded guilty in 2018 to campaign finance violations, was seeking relief after complying with his release conditions. However, the AI-generated citations, which appeared legitimate but were entirely fabricated, were included in the motion without verification.
This error could have significant implications for Cohen’s role as a witness in a Manhattan criminal case against Trump. Trump’s legal team has long criticized Cohen for dishonesty, and this incident provides them with fresh ammunition. Schwartz, acknowledging his mistake, apologized for not personally checking the cases before submission. Cohen’s new lawyer, E. Danya Perry, emphasized that Cohen, unaware of the citations’ authenticity, did not engage in misconduct.
The future of AI in legal proceedings
The incident underscores the challenges and risks associated with emerging legal technologies. Cohen admitted to being out of touch with the advancements and risks in legal tech, particularly the capabilities of generative text services like Google Bard. This case highlights the need for legal professionals to exercise caution and verify information when using AI tools.
As AI continues to integrate into various sectors, including law, incidents like this stress the importance of understanding and responsibly using these technologies. Legal professionals must be aware of the limitations and potential pitfalls of AI to prevent similar mishaps in the future. This case serves as a reminder of the evolving landscape of legal technology and the continuous need for vigilance and due diligence in its application.